Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, on Wednesday morning during a high-level meeting with the provincial police chiefs of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, the Free State, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, as well as Lt. Gen. Fannie Masemola, the national police commissioner, said 12 suspects have been identified for their alleged involvement in the wave of attacks on trucks in the past week.
There is great concern after a total of 21 trucks were set on fire in several provinces in less than a week.
Cele labeled the crime as “cowardly” and said whether it is economic sabotage, labor or service delivery related disputes, those who choose to use violence and intimidation – for whatever motive – will pay.
“Intelligence shows that attacks on trucks may be business-related; these are certainly not just random acts of criminality.
“Evidence shows that these are organized, coordinated and sophisticated operations that seek to undermine and sabotage the state.
“A total of 12 suspects have been identified through investigations and intelligence gathering and their possible involvement in the attacks is currently being investigated,” says the minister.
In KwaZulu-Natal, nine trucks have been set on fire since Sunday, another nine trucks have been set on fire in Mpumalanga over the past few days – with the latest incident on Wednesday morning between Ermelo and Sheepmore – and three incidents were also reported in Limpopo.
“We want to make it very clear that so far there have been no attacks on trucks in the Free State and Gauteng,” says Cele.
Police plan of action
“We are already busy with our plan of action, we are not doing anything,” says Cele.
“It doesn’t matter what the motive is, the country’s law enforcement remains on high alert and is working hard to prevent more attacks on trucks and give these gangs or thugs hell for the havoc they cause on our roads.”
Masemola says the police have set up roadblocks on all the main routes in an attempt to prevent the attacks. Lt. Gen. Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, KwaZulu-Natal’s police chief, has also assembled a high-level police team to investigate the latest wave of attacks.
According to Cele, all major routes are currently secured and regular patrols are carried out along identified high-risk routes.
“We have a capable state that learns from history. The security forces work together and the security group is in a better position to respond to similar attacks.”
Riots of 2021
It is now two years since the July riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng when violent rioting claimed the lives of 354 people. Cele says there is no indication that the recent attacks on trucks are in any way related to these riots.
“I want to use this opportunity to allay any fears that what happened in July 2021 will be repeated,” says Cele.
“The police are working hard and working together to stop this organized crime and secure arrests.”